The African American author Zora Neale Hurston (1891- 1960) was an exception during a period when black woman did not possess any literary career of their own. She used to travel throughout the American South and West Indians to study folklore…
She was an important collector of folklore in the United States. Zora was born in the time when a strong sense of racial discrimination was prevalent in the America society. But the author never suffered from inadequacy complex for her race. She was able to realize the richness of black culture by residing in Eatonville in Florida. The author faced many criticisms for her works, “concerning changes in race, class and gender in America, events that would ultimately have an impact.” (Jones, 13) Zora’s focus on portraying black especially women was very different from her contemporaries, “Zora Neale Hurston’s decision to define black nationalist consciousness differently from the social protest to her contemporary, Richard Wright – who presents violence between blacks and whites as a central focus and who centers black men’s experiences in a racist society- created much controversy”. (Lester, 3) Zora’s use of Folklore in a form of tale and elevating the condition of black women in her works reflects her positive attitude towards the condition of the black population of the United States. A Brief Biography Zora Neale Hurston was born in Notasulga, Alabama on January 7, 1891. Her father’s name was Reverend John who was a carpenter, a sharecropper and a Baptist preacher and her mother’s name was Lucy Hurston who was a school teacher by profession. Zora was the fifth of eight children in the Hurston family. After the birth of Zora, her entire family moved to Eatonville, Florida. Eatonville was the first town comprised of black population in the United States. Zora’s mother died when she was just nine years old. After demine of Lucy Hurston, Zora’s father soon remarried. With the passage of time Zora’s relationship with her step mother drastically deteriorated. Zora was sent to Jacksonville to attend school. During her premature stage, Zora became a wardrobe girl in a theatre company called Gilbert and Sullivan that was touring the South. In the year 1917, in Baltimore, Zora got herself enrolled in Morgan Academy. After completing her graduation Zora went to Howard University to finish her work course between 1919 and 1924. She took transfer to Barnard College with a help of a scholarship and completed her B.A in the year 1928. In Columbia University, she studied Anthropology and folklore from the year 1928 to 1932 under the guidance of Franz Boas who was a famous anthropologist of that time. Zora was honored with a Guggenheim Fellowship in the year 1936. With the help of this scholarship, she traveled to Haiti and British West Indies, to gather folklore. Hurston tried her hands on several jobs from manicurist to secretary. She also tried writing for Paramount and Warner Brothers Studio. She was also a librarian at the Library of Congress. Zora taught drama at North Carolina College for Negros. Hurston’s literary career began when she was a student of Howard. Her first short story was published in college fictional magazine called Stylus. In the year 1925, Zora was awarded first prize for ‘Spunk’ in the Opportunity literary contest. This award brought Hurston to the attention of the young black writers who were the members of the group called Harlem Renaissance. In the year 1939, she earned her doctorate degree from Morgan College. Zora was honored with Annisfield Award for writing an autobiography on ‘Dust Tracks on the Road’ in the year 1943. The book was very successful, “filled with evasion, posturing, all kinds of self- concealment, though it is ostensibly an autobiography.” ...
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